WHEN First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a paper setting out the principles of restoring a “degree of normality” to everyday life, it gave the clearest insight yet into how the UK might exit from the coronavirus lockdown.

The move ramped up pressure on the UK Government to outline its strategy and led to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw scrambling to call for the devolved nations to follow a “four-nations approach”.

The coronavirus crisis may have meant a postponement of the debate over indyref2, but the spotlight is still on the relationship between the Scottish and UK governments.

In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, experts predict there is likely to be to renewed debate about Holyrood’s current powers and independence will come back on the agenda.

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Dr William McDougall, lecturer in politics at Glasgow Caledonian University, pointed out one of the purposes of having devolution was to allow countries to take a different approach.

“Germany is one of the countries which is being praised at the moment in terms of various issues such as testing and how it is performing,” he said.

“It of course has a federal system – and at the start [of the pandemic] Angela Merkel was being criticised as it was the German lander [states] who were taking all the decisions around which restrictions to impose, or ramping up testing.

“There was debate in Germany about why don’t we have a stronger central government to make these decisions – but it turned out most of the decisions made were actually accurate.”

McDougall said the coronavirus crisis showed the limitations of the current powers of the Scottish Government – which may lead to future debate over the issue.

He said: “Take for example, some of these schemes the UK Chancellor has come up with in terms of furlough and schemes for the self-employed.

“If the Scottish Government decided it wanted to keep some restrictions in place and the UK Government removed them, then you would have a difficulty for the Scottish Government as how would you cover the wages of people who are no longer being covered by the UK Government.

“There certainly is a question in terms of looking again to ask if the balance right in terms of the powers the Scottish Government has?

“I do see there being an opening there for at least a debate on those issues.”

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McDougall also said while the SNP was right to put the issue of independence on the backburner during the crisis it is likely to be raised ahead of the next Scottish Parliamentary elections, due to take place in May 2021.

“If you are having an election in 2021, I would assume the constitutional question and the Scottish and UK governments’ responses to Covid-19 will become entwined with each other,” he said.

“There will be debates around do we have the right powers, have we taken a different approach from the UK, does that work, how does that play into the constitutional question, are there smaller countries who have performed much better with this than the UK, would it be better if Scotland actually had those powers itself?”

Anthony Salamone, managing director of political analysis firm European Merchants, argued it made sense for Scotland to take a different approach if needed during the crisis.

“The whole point of devolution was to allow different parts of the UK to do different things and health has always been devolved,” he said.

“So while it makes sense, considering we are on the same island, for different parts of the UK to coordinate where necessary and to do similar things where appropriate – and where it makes sense for Scotland to do something different, then it should be able to do so without fear of a political backlash.”

He argued despite the “unprecedented crisis” that Covid-19 has brought, the idea that politics can be put to one side is too simplistic.

“Politics never goes away – politics is always there, it is political to decide the allocation of resources, it is political to decide when the lockdown happens and for how long and so on,” he said.

“We can talk about having a more cross-party approach – but it is not as if politics ever went away just because we have the coronavirus crisis.”

Salamone said independence would be a key issue ahead of the next Holyrood elections, whether people “want it to be or not”.

But he said the SNP may take a cautious approach to placing it back on the agenda when the coronavirus crisis eases, by letting opposition parties who support the Uunion or the pro-independence Greens raise it first as an issue.

He added: “In response the SNP can then relaunch more substantive discussions about independence.

“I imagine at some point down the line – and this is months, rather than weeks – the First Minister will undoubtedly have to make some speech or statement on what she thinks about independence, even if that is to say we need to put that off for longer than I would have wanted.

“SNP voters will want to hear what the thinking is.”